Coalition looks to give tax help


Published: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 8:54 p.m.

The coalition behind the Dollars & $ense Campaign wants to make sure low-income wage earners receive the tax credits they are due and that they learn how to use that money to improve their lives.

Facts

Tax preparation sites and times

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, Department of Children and Family Services, 1000 NE 16th Ave., Building J.

6-9 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting Monday at Santa Fe Community College's Blount Center, 40 NW 6th St.

5-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays starting Feb. 12 at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays starting Saturday at the Passage Church/Traveling Site, 2020 NE 15th St.

The campaign, formerly the Heart of Florida Prosperity Campaign, is offering free tax preparation help for taxpayers and free lessons on budgeting, saving and building good credit.

Education coordinator Karen Cole-Smith said she knows the financial literacy education is needed every time she sees a business that promises to "cash your check, get money quick" and exploit people monetarily.

Dee Woods of the IRS said the program also saves taxpayers the cost of paying a tax preparation company.

Anyone can use the service, but the campaign's mission is to help low-income earners receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.

To qualify, taxpayers must have a 2007 investment income of $2,900 or less and income below $12,590 ($14,590 filing jointly) with no qualifying children; $33,241 ($35,241 jointly) with one child and $37,783 ($39,783 jointly) with two or more children. Taxpayers can claim as much as $428 with no children to $4,716 with two or more children.

In a news conference outside Gainesville City Hall on Thursday, Wachovia Area President Sam Goforth presented a $15,000 donation from the Wachovia Foundation in support of the campaign.

"What I want to do is challenge every other bank and credit union in this community . . . to step up and do something," Goforth said. "This is a no-brainer because it gives money right back to our community."

The campaign, headed up by the East Gainesville Development Corporation, hopes to provide 1,000 free tax preparations, according to campaign chairwoman Nona Jones. The Internal Revenue Service has trained 30 volunteers.

Taxpayers are asked to schedule an appointment by calling the United Way's help line at 211.

To attend or schedule financial empowerment classes, e-mail Karen Cole-Smith at karen.cole-smith@sfcc.edu.

For details, call Nona Jones at 352-870-2808.

Anthony Clark can be reached at 352-374-5094 or anthony.clark@gvillesun.com.

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